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Second garden death in 2 days

Alipurduar, Nov. 16: A nine-year-old girl in the shut Dheklapara tea garden died today, the second such death in 48 hours.

Anisha Tanti’s father said he earned Rs 50 a day by breaking rocks and could not provide the girl, who was suffering from jaundice, with enough food.

Although physicians have not said the cause of the girl’s death was malnutrition, several deaths have been reported in closed tea gardens where poverty-stricken families have said the lack of food had made the victims ill and susceptible to diseases.

Two days ago, a 22-year-old woman suffering from tuberculosis died in the same garden, which has been shut since 2002. In the last 10 years, 90 workers in Dheklapara have died.

Anisha’s death today in the Upper Line in the Dheklapara main division is the 15th in this closed garden in the last two months.

Bikram, the girl’s father, said: “Anisha had jaundice. I could not provide her with food because of poverty.” He said his “source of income was by breaking rocks for which I get Rs 50 a day”.

“For a long time, my daughter got very little food. For the last six months, Anisha has been suffering from jaundice. The Birpara hospital doctors told me to take her outside Dheklapara for treatment, but I have no money.”

He said on October 16, north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb, who visited the area, came to know about Anisha’s illness. “He immediately made arrangements to take Anisha to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.” Anisha was being treated for free there.

Just before Kali Puja, “the doctors told me that there is nothing they can do as water had filled her liver”, Bikram said. “I brought her back home and this morning, she died.”